One of my writing nonfiction students has been struggling with which one of two topics to choose for her project. The problem is that she’s waiting to hear back from someone about Topic #1 so she wasn’t sure if she should go ahead and pursue Topic #2.
I suggested that she pursue both. While she waits to hear back on Topic #1 she should work on Topic #2. Sometimes it is just a good idea to have a back up.
Me? I always work on more than one thing at once. This past week this list included:
- The young adult science fiction novel I am roughing out,
- A picture book about caves that had stalled out but on Thursday THE solution came to me so I need to get back to work,
- A picture book about schools that I roughed out,
- The 8th grade level manuscript that I’m researching for Abdo,
- A picture book about space flight that I roughed out, and
- Oh, I nearly forgot. And the pitch that I’m working on.
Why so many things at once? I’ve been working on 1 and 2 for a few weeks now but #2 had stalled out so I was focusing on #1.
I roughed out #3 while working something up for the blog.
The idea for #5 came to me while I was researching #6 so I quickly roughed it out so that I’d have the idea down.
Yeah. I’m probably a little crazy. Right now my focuses are#4 since I have a deadline Friday and #6 which is due tomorrow. But I’m also trying to work on #1 a little bit every day.
I am a very focused, intense writer. If I know where I am going with something, I can rough out 250-350 words in about 15 minutes. But once I’ve written this intensely for at most 30 minutes I’m pretty much done for an hour or so. I can do research. I can play with my frame for a story. But I can’t write that hard until I’ve done something else for a while.
What can I say? This is what works for me. How do you write? Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Way back in the olden’ days, translation: the early 2000s, I had some spiffy manuscript tracking software. It was written by someone in my critique group and had fields for manuscript title, editor/agent, and publisher/agency. It also pinged mercilessly to remind you when you needed to follow up on something. Unfortunately, my friend decided that it was a huge hastle to update the software every time Windows updated.
What was I to do? I looked at various programs and services but I’m notoriously frugal. Okay, some people might say that I’m cheap. But I wasn’t going to throw good money when I already had Excel. That’s still what I use today.
Whenever I send something out, I make an entry in the Excel file that is oh-so creatively named Tracking. I know! Isn’t that an awesome file name? And I still get reminders because I mark my calendar with when I should hear something.
If making up your own spread sheet doesn’t sound appealing, Writer’s Digest currently has six different spread sheets available to help you keep track of what is where. They are:
• Freelance Pitch Tracker
• Literary Journal Submission Tracker
• Freelance Payment Tracker
• Agent Query Tracker
• Direct-to-Publisher Query Tracker
• Agent Submissions to Publishers Tracker
To link through and get them, visit the Writer’s Digest announcement here. Keeping track of what is where doesn’t have to be fancy but it really is something you need to do. If one editor or agent makes an offer, you want to know who else currently has your work. Otherwise you might find yourself in an embarrassing situation!
The Collaborative division of Alloy Entertainment is looking for manuscripts. They want to acquire up to twelve partial or complete manuscripts per year. The emphasis is on women’s fiction, young adult, middle grade, and chapter books. The Collaborative and the author “shape” the manuscript together and then determine the “steps for publication.” I’m not 100% certain what they mean by this, thus the quotes, but it seems that they put the piece through the editorial process, acting as agents.
Why do I say acting as agents? Because they developed How to Love by Katie Cotugno, a romance told in alternating Before and After chapters. This book was published in October 2013 on Balzer & Bray’s list, an imprint of HarperCollins. The Art of Disappearing by Elena Perez, a novel about a girl learns she may be psychic, launched as an e-book in August 2012, this time under Alloy Entertainment.
The Collaborative is reviewing full or partial fiction manuscripts. No scripts. Those without an agent should send query e-mail that contains a brief overview of the book’s premise and the authors writing background. Also, attach the first five pages of the manuscript as a Word Doc .
They also state that they are “only interested in manuscripts which have not previously been submitted to publishing houses.”
You can check out the details on the Alloy website.
Author/blogger Jen Mann is seeking letters of advice for teenagers for two different anthologies. The books are letters of advice, one for girls and the other for boys, to teenagers who are about to move out on their own. Emphasis — make it hilariously funny.
This is probably only going to work if you have something already written because the deadline is September 1, 2014. If you can write something new by then, fine. But I suspect this deadline will be a little tight for from-scratch efforts. Here is some general information:
What: Original humorous essays giving advice to teen boys or teen girls.
Length: 1,000 – 2,500 words
Deadline: September 1, 2014
Read the full guidelines here before you submit. I know. I didn’t even give you the contact information but that’s because you need to check out the guidelines.
I posted a call for manuscripts from Spellbound back in May but this is a new call. Note that this speculative ficiton magazine reads only for one theme at a time. This means that if you want to submit for a theme other than the “current” reading period, you need to wait.
Upcoming themes and the dates for reading are:
- Winter 2014: Elementals: Reading Period July 1 – September 30, 2014
- Spring 2015: Knights, Rogues & Other Adventurers: Reading Period October 1 – December 31
- Summer 2015: Transformations: Reading Period January 1 – March 31, 2015
- Fall 2015: The Undead: Reading Period April 1 – June 30, 2015
- Winter 2015: Lost Cities: Reading Period July 1 – September 30, 2015
- Spring 2016: Kappas, Kelpies & Other Fresh Water Creatures: Reading Period October 1 – December 31, 2015
- Summer 2016: Untied We Stand: Magical Friendships: Reading Period January 1 – March 31, 2016
- Fall 2016: Liminal Beings (Centaurs, Nagas, Satyrs, etc.): Reading Period April 1 – June 30, 2016
- Winter 2016: Deadly Beasties (Manticores, Chimeras, Basilisks, etc.): Reading Period July 1 – September 30, 2016
Raechel Henderson, fiction editor, wants protagonists who actively resolve story problems and conflicts. Word length up to 2500 words.
Marcie Tentchoff, poetry editor, wants short poetry, whether free verse or traditional, with elements of speculative fiction. Length 8-36 lines.
Payment: 2.5 cents/word for stories, $10-$20 for poems.
Deadline: June 30.
Read complete guidelines here.
Here is another fairly new imprint looking for work. Shiloh Kidz is an imprint of Barbour Publishing. I didn’t see specific guidelines on the site for Shiloh Kidz but Barbour is accepting manuscripts. The first list will debut in November 2014.
The news that I read on Writing Career.com was that the imprint will feature books for readers ages 3 – 12 in a variety of formats and media. This Christian imprint plans to publish religious novels, scripture-based stories, Bible reference, and fiction stories.
Kelly McIntosh is the Vice President of Editorial.
Check out the site and the tone of their books if you think that you have something suitable.
Good news! Prufrock Press is looking for submissions! I’m especially excited about this becaues Prufrock is publishing my friend Stephanie’s Secret Files series. They are aggressively marketing it and have already gotten to OK for it to go into B&N.
Prufrock is looking for books in six categories:
- supplemental classroom activity books,
- professional development books,
- talent development resources for children,
- materials for children with special needs,
- principal and supplementary college textbooks, and
- trade books.
Stephanie’s series falls under their trade books.
Click here to read more about the topics that interest them and here to find out what they want to see in a prospectus.
Good luck pitching your idea to them!
The picture book market seems to be picking up — if nothing else, you aren’t hearing as many dire comments. “Do Not Send Us Picture Books!” Nope. Not nearly as often.
But it does seem that the small and medium-sized publishers, the ones listed less often in the market listings, offer more opportunities to authors who may not already be a household name.
Fortunately author Nancy Kelly Allen has pulled together a list of small and medium-sized publishers which she has posted on her blog. Look at the menu on the right side of the page. Don’t skip this resource because you think she means fly-by-night companies. This list includes reputable publishers of all kinds including Boyds Mills and Chronicle and Charlesbridge.
Thank you, Nancy! We appreciate your efforts.